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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/TheKiller http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/john_woo_s_the_killer.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Two BloodBrothers about to spill some more blood; both their own and their enemies'.]]

->''"Honor is his code. Vengeance is his mission. Bloodshed is his only option."''
-->-- '''Tagline''' for ''Creator/JohnWoo Presents: VideoGame/{{Stranglehold}}''

Also known as UsefulNotes/HongKong Blood Opera, this is a genre of Hong Kong Action Cinema made popular by directors like Creator/JohnWoo and Ringo Lam and actors such as Creator/ChowYunFat. Heroic Bloodshed plots are primarily modern-day crime action pieces that focus on revenge, redemption or some kind of conflict between rivals or enemies on both sides of the law, with a special focus on gunplay. There's a very strong theme of honor, loyalty and betrayal in these movies, particularly those made by John Woo.

Characters spin, [[UnnecessaryCombatRoll roll]], and [[LeapAndFire dive]] across the room while blasting away during shootouts, often with [[GunsAkimbo two guns at once]]. Often, a good dose of kung fu or other martial arts is also mixed in, especially when actors synonomous with that genre appear. Heroic Bloodshed films (as per the name) are also incredibly violent with lots of blood and high body counts before it's all over.

Protagonists are usually [[NobleDemon honorable criminals]] or hard-boiled enforcers of either the police or the criminal variety, resulting in [[GrayAndGrayMorality very morally ambiguous plots]], which makes for some interesting parallels with FilmNoir.

Not to be confused with old-style [[MartialArtsMovie martial arts]] films, nor {{Wuxia}} which is Chinese classical {{fantasy}} about feuding [[KnightErrant knights errant]] using MagicalMartialArts. These films instead prefer the modern cop and [[DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster gangster]] milieu, and the martial art of choice is GunFu. Except when it's a TabletopGame/FengShui game, then it's pretty much the same.

For more information about the genre, see Wiki/TheOtherWiki's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroic_bloodshed article]].

!!Common subtropes and related tropes:

* BackToBackBadasses: If two heroes (or even a hero and a rival) feature in a film, count on at least one instance where they cover each other this way against a horde of mooks.
* BadassInANiceSuit: The attire of choice for many assassins, heroic and villainous gangsters, high ranking cops and the like.
* BadassLongcoat: The other major attire of choice for characters, usually open like the wings of an angel of death.
* BashBrothers
* BloodBrothers: A holdover from the Chinese cinematic and literary tradition -- two men who are sworn to each other and will go through hell and high water for each other. Actual blood relation optional.
* BloodlessCarnage: Often averted -- this genre is called "Blood Opera" for a ''reason!''
* BloodstainedGlassWindows: Ever since The Killer, church shootouts have shown up on occasion in these movies.
* BlownAcrossTheRoom
* BottomlessMagazines
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} Christian themes and imagery.]] And don't think it's [[CrystalDragonJesus just for show]] because of the Asian origins of the genre. Creator/JohnWoo is an actual practicing Lutheran.
* CoolShades: Heroes and villains alike tend to wear these.
* CowboyCop: If a cop appears in one of these films as one of the heroes, he's more likely than not to be one of these.
* DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster: A lot of Hong Kong gangster movies, particularly the likes of ''The Young and the Dangerous'', tend to glorify the triad lifestyle.
* DisturbedDoves
* FacelessGoons / {{Mooks}}
* GunFu
* GunKata
* GunsAkimbo: Though single-gunning is quite common in these films, it isn't uncommon to see a hero or villain go both guns blazing.
* TheGunslinger: Type C
* HitmanWithAHeart: If an assassin isn't on the side of evil in one of these movies, he's likely to be one of these where it counts.
* HonorBeforeReason
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: Many mooks tend to be lousy shots, though they do sometimes land hits.
* LeapAndFire
* ManlyTears: Heroes in Blood Opera are not shy about letting their emotions show.
* ManInWhite: Usually the hero or the villain. Count on the white suit to get covered in blood.
* MexicanStandOff: Most often between two people at point blank range, though three or even more-way standoffs are common.
* RedOniBlueOni: Count on at least one relationship along these lines, particularly between heroes and villains.
* SmokingIsCool: This genre started back in the [=80s=], when smoking was still a thing, and even now, some movies still have their heroes and villains smoke.
* SympathyForTheDevil
* TheSyndicate
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs: They're both heroes and villains in these movies.
* ThrowAwayGuns: Many characters in these films, upon emptying their guns, will often dump them and draw new ones instead of reloading them.
* UnnecessaryCombatRoll
* WhiteShirtOfDeath
* {{Yakuza}} and related tropes: The Japanese are no strangers to the genre either.
!!Examples of this trope:


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'', while not explicitly falling into this category, draws strongly from it, with cool gunfighting and heavy moral ambiguity.
* ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' may ''seem'' to be this genre at first, but on closer observation, it plays the cynical subtropes straight while ''mercilessly'' demolishing the idealistic ones. Unlike true HeroicBloodshed, the series holds absolutely '''no''' faith in honor, hope or fundamental human decency.
** Downplayed in the English dub, where TheWestern aesthetics are played up instead.
* ''Anime/{{Noir}}'' and ''Anime/{{Madlax}}'' are Creator/BeeTrain studio's loving, if distinctly [[GenderFlip feminine]], tribute to a once distinctly masculine genre.
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', specifically storylines involving Spike, Vicious and the [[TheSyndicate Red Dragon]].
* ''Manga/{{Sanctuary}}''
* Although short on gunplay, the extreme balletic violence and perversely honourable moral element of the blood opera was part and parcel of ''Manga/CryingFreeman'' -- for the superpowered leader of a vastly powerful criminal conspiracy, Freeman Yoh spends a lot more time battling criminals and indirectly aiding the downtrodden than actually committing the kind of deeds which keep a crime syndicate afloat -- it's like a mafia film which [[TheFamilyForTheWholeFamily is all 'doing favours' and no 'collecting on debts']].
* ''VideoGame/{{Gungrave}}'', particularly the part that takes place in the past, is a quintessential HeroicBloodshed anime (the present-day part is similar story-wise, but its style changes to account for various hypertech wonders).


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* ''ComicBook/TheCouriers''


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/ABetterTomorrow'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo. Stars Ti Lung, Creator/LeslieCheung and Chow Yun-Fat in his breakout role.
* ''A Better Tomorrow II'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo. Stars Ti Lung, Creator/LeslieCheung, Chow Yun-Fat and Dean Shek.
* ''A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon'' - directed by Tsui Hark. Stars Chow Yun-Fat, Anita Mui and Tony Leung Ka-Fai.
* ''Film/TheBigHit'' - Mixes several of the usual HeroicBloodshed tropes with wacky comedy.
* ''Film/BulletInTheHead'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, and featuring Creator/TonyLeung, Jacky Cheung, and Simon Yam.
* ''Film/TheCrow'' - This movie has many elements of Heroic Bloodshed, particularly in the boardroom and church shootouts. Brandon Lee's final movie.
* ''Film/DrugWar'' by Creator/JohnnieTo [[ZigZaggedTrope zig-zags]] this trope. The influence is obvious: At first glance it features many of the usual themes around loyalty, betrayal, family honour and DueToTheDead. However, it eschews the operatic style in favour of a far more gritty and realistic approach, both in regards to the gunplay and to the story in general. Prior to the last third of the movie, there are very few action scenes at all, and many of the main character's actions are motivated primarily by self-preservation rather than any higher ideals.
* ''Film/{{Equilibrium}}'' - Kurt Wimmer pays homage to the genre by means of inventing a [[GunKata new gunplay-based martial art]].
* ''Film/FaceOff'' - Creator/JohnWoo's best American flick, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage as both hero and villain.
* ''Film/HardBoiled'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, featuring Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.
* ''Film/JohnWick'' - starring Keanu Reeves, a retired hitman seeks revenge against those who wronged him, while wearing a nice suit, feats of gun fu and jujitsu? Definitely.
* ''Film/HardTarget'' - Creator/JohnWoo's first American movie, starring the "Muscles from Brussels," Jean Claude Van Damme.
* ''[[Film/BrokenArrow1996 Broken Arrow]]'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, starring John Travolta and Christian Slater.
* ''Film/HeroicTrio'' follows this genre to the letter with the possible exception of gunplay. Only one of the girls uses guns.
* ''Film/HitTeam''
* ''Film/TheInfernalAffairsTrilogy'' - directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Andy Lau. One of the more cynical series.
* ''Film/TheKiller'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee.
* ''Film/MissionImpossibleII'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, starring Tom Cruise.
* ''Film/TheMatrix'' - The Wachowskis pay homage to the genre in a big way, particularly in the first movie.
* ''Film/TheMummyTrilogy'' - Stephen Sommers just loves to pay homage to this genre, in particular the [[GunsAkimbo ranged combat style]] of the O'Connell family's men.
* ''Film/NoTearsForTheDead''
* ''Film/TheRaid'' and its continuation, ''[[Film/TheRaid2Berandal Berandal]]'' - directed by Gareth Evans. In recent years, probably one of the best-known films of this genre, at least for Western audiences.
* ''Film/TheReplacementKillers'' - directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by John Woo. Stars Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino.
* ''Heroes Shed No Tears'' - the first gunplay movie directed by Creator/JohnWoo, released after ''A Better Tomorrow''.
* ''Hero of Tomorrow'' - directed by Poon Man Kit starring Max Mok.
* ''Dragon Family'' - directed by Lau Kar Leung and starring Alan Tam, O Chun Hung and Max Mok.
* ''Legacy of Rage'' - directed by Ronny Yu, noted for being Brandon Lee's first movie.
* ''City on Fire'' - directed by Ringo Lam, starring Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee, noted for inspiring Creator/QuentinTarantino's ''Film/ReservoirDogs''.
* ''Killer's Romance'' - directed by Phillip Ko Fei and starring Simon Yam. Based on ''Manga/CryingFreeman''.
* ''Rich and Famous'' - directed by Taylor Wong and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau.
* ''Tragic Hero'' - directed by Taylor Wong and starring Chow Yun-Fat, Andy Lau and Alan Tam. Was intended as a sequel to Rich and Famous, but ended up getting released first.
* ''Just Heroes'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, with none of Woo's previous stars, though Danny Lee, who plays in this one, would go on to appear in ''The Killer''.
* ''Once a Thief'' - directed by Creator/JohnWoo, starring Chow Yun-Fat, Creator/LeslieCheung and Cheri Chung.
* ''Full Contact'' - directed by Ringo Lam, starring Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam and Anthony Wong.
* ''Exiled'' - directed by Johnnie To, starring Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet and Simon Yam.
* ''Return to a Better Tomorrow'' - Wong Jing's attempt to revive the franchise created by John Woo. Wong Jing being Wong Jing, however, he's not too successful.
* ''American Yakuza'', directed by Frank Cappello and starring Creator/ViggoMortenson, Ryo Ishibashi and Michael Nouri.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* If a game in the modern juncture of ''TabletopGame/FengShui'' doesn't focus on Martial Arts, it's most likely this.
* The Gunplay genre from ''TabletopGame/HongKongActionTheatre!'' covers both the HeroicBloodshed genre and other movies that have their characters using guns a lot.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/{{Stranglehold}}''
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne''
* ''VideoGame/TheOpera'' mod for ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''.
* The ''Videogame/{{Yakuza}}'' series, like ''Manga/CryingFreeman'', uses many of the same story-related tropes as a lot of HeroicBloodshed films, only it's more of a brawler than a shooter.
* ''VideoGame/TrueCrimeStreetsOfLA''
* ''VideoGame/DeadToRights''
* Heroic Bloodshed is one of two main sources of inspiration for ''VideoGame/{{Wet}}'' (the other is Tarantino movies).
* ''VideoGame/ShadowWarrior'' "Be proud Mr.Woo!"
* ''VideoGame/SleepingDogs''
* ''VideoGame/DrakeOfThe99Dragons''
* ''VideoGame/JustCause'' thanks to the acrobatics and dual wielding.
* ''VideoGame/FistOfTheNorthStar2018''


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Back in 2007, as part of the promotion for his new game ''{{VideoGame/Stranglehold}}'', Creator/JohnWoo held a "True To John Woo" Short Film Contest in which he invited amateur filmmakers to make a short film in the HeroicBloodshed style. [[http://www.myspace.com/strangleholdgame Here's the link.]]


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* The ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' episode "Tale of X9" draws heavily from this and FilmNoir.